In a memorable scene from the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” Mr. McGuire offers a cryptic suggestion about the key to future for the young college grad played by Dustin Hoffman.
Mr. McGuire: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.”
Benjamin: “Yes, sir.”
Mr. McGuire: “Are you listening?”
Benjamin: “Yes, I am.”
Mr. McGuire: “Plastics.”
Benjamin: “How exactly do you mean?”
Mr. McGuire was of course referring to the impending plastics revolution that he believed would change the future. Thirty-five years later, we can replace the word “plastics” with “technology.” Defining growth goals for your pizza operation is a part of healthy business planning. Whether you want to grow your sales by $1 million or $5 million, a cutting edge Point of Sale (POS) system is the key to the future growth and profitability of your pizza operation.
In 1995, Pizza Shuttle opened its doors at a new location on Milwaukee’s East Side. Armed with a pen and notepad, we ambitiously set out to grow our business in our new college-centric neighborhood. We had everything a young, independent pizzeria could offer: a hip marketing campaign, an expanded menu that catered to everyone, late-night hours and delivery service. With 10 years under our belts, we had struck a formula that seemed to work. But if we were to obtain the growth we desired and remain a competitive, evolving business, we had to have a “Mr. McGuire moment” and embrace the technology of the future.
Technology. What exactly does this mean?
We could not have grown efficiently or profitably without the investment in a POS system. You won’t either. Let’s assume you have an unprecedented work ethic, a great product, excellent location and a talented, hard-working staff. If you do not use a POS system, you might as well be taking orders with a pencil and paper on a rotary phone.
Modern pizza consumers have come to expect savvy use of technology by businesses they patronize. In addition to driving a smooth internal experience, a POS system can integrate with online ordering interfaces and social media, as well as offer advanced marketing capabilities that can create a two-way communication channel between the business and the consumer. An efficient business driven by technology will result in a rewarding employee and customer experience.
A good POS system can positively impact every aspect of your business and, most importantly, your bottom line. The following list captures only a short list of benefits that a POS system offers in sustaining and creating business growth.
1) Order taking accuracy and financial control.
2) Delivery dispatch management.
3) Labor management and payroll administration.
4) Integration with web and mobile order interfaces. (This could grow to 50 percent of your orders!)
5) Inventory control.
6) Reporting capabilities: logistics, sales, labor, promotions.
7) Security cameras and surveillance.
8) Credit card processing.
9) Customer relationship management through email, text marketing, social media.
10) Gift cards and loyalty programs.
Choosing a POS System
Picking a POS company can be a daunting task. As POS systems evolve with today’s sophisticated business trends, it can be difficult to discern what system will result in the best fit for your business and produce the most return on your investment. The following suggestions can serve as a basic framework for choosing the best POS system for your business.
• Visit a restaurant of similar culture and volume that uses your prospective system. The POS system market offers numerous options for pizza operations of all kinds. The best way to see how a particular system will fit your operations is to observe its performance at a business similar to yours. Of course, you must also consider the future direction of your business in addition to outfitting the business you are today.
• Think about the kind of change you would like to see as a result of your POS system purchase. If you are considering adding delivery service as part of your POS system purchase, visit a high-volume delivery operation and pay attention. Define the areas of growth that are important to you and determine how the POS functions to see if it can get you there. Want to manage payroll? Integrate credit card processing? Expand your marketing capabilities? Make a list of future growth goals and use it as a roadmap in your POS system research.
• Ask the employees. Nobody can give a better testament to a system’s performance than the employees that use it every day. Employees will give you the brutal truth on how the system handles the busiest times or how intuitive the interface is to use and navigate.
• Know their support capabilities. Research a prospective POS company’s support capabilities to see if they match meet the needs of your business. Do you have somebody who is comfortable with programming menu changes in-house or will you be relying on the POS company to make changes? If you are open until bar time, you might want to make 24/7 service support a non-negotiable feature.
• Look into buying or leasing a used POS system. A POS system represents a significant investment in your business and the upfront costs can be intimidating, perhaps even prohibitive. Buying a used system from an existing restaurant or exploring leasing options can save you on upfront costs.
You are creating a living, breathing business that can and should grow. Remember, you do not have to do $1 million or $5 million to make money—although that doesn’t hurt! But at a very minimum, you need to take advantage of the technology available to maximize control of your money while minimizing your labor. A self-sufficient business cultivated by the smart use of technology will enable you to realize healthy business growth, maximize profits and spend more time with family and friends. That’s how technology can really help you enjoy life.
Mark Gold, a co-founder of Milwaukee-based Pizza Shuttle, which amasses $4.2 million in per-year sales from one store, will be a panel member for the Million-in-One Club discussion on Monday, March 18, during special pre-show programming at Pizza Expo. He’ll be joined by Tony Caputo of Red Rose Pizzeria, Tony Gemignani of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana and Ray McConn of Mother Bear’s Pizza for a question-and-answer session about growing one unit to $1 million-plus in annual revenues.
For more details on International Pizza Expo 2013, visit www.pizzaexpo.com.